Reading Pupils Speak Out!

Six Catholic primary schools from the Reading area went head to head last Thursday night at the CAFOD Primary Public Speaking Final.

Teachers, parents, and pupils gathered together excitedly at Reading’s Council Chambers to hear the finalists give their talks on how we can all make the world a fairer place.

Competition organiser and CAFOD School Volunteer for the Reading area, Linda Heneghan said,

‘‘For weeks now, the children have been learning about CAFOD’s work overseas and thinking about the kinds of things they can do to make the world a more equitable place.   The final is the culmination of many weeks hard work. Over 500 pupils took part in the competition so all our finalists have done very well to get to this stage.  Their talks were fantastic!  Well argued, interesting and informative. They were all so good that it was incredibly hard for the judges to make a decision!”

Let’s hear from some of the pupils themselves!



Pupils spoke out so passionately on the night, calling for the cancellation of debts and an end to unfair trade policies that keep people poor ‘not in the time of our grandchildren’ as one finalist from St Martin’s said ‘but in our time!’

Other pupils from Christ the King spoke both of domestic as well as international poverty, focussing on homelessness and hunger, challenging the audience too to consider the impact of our own lifestyles on our environment. ‘We must act now!’ one pupil said on the issue of climate change.  It is in our gift, as one pupil put it, ‘to bring about a world in which each person is respected.’  We should strive to “bring about justice and allow peace to flourish.”  Fantastic!!

Judges on the night included the Mayor of Reading (Deborah Edwards), Editor of the Reading Chronicle (Maurice O’Brien) and John Casey, Head of Blessed Hugh Faringdon.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and although they said they had been nervous – no one could tell!  They all looked so confident!


An overall winner was chosen from St Paul’s School in Reading and a special shield was awarded to the finalists from St Martin’s Primary in Caversham who achieved the highest amalgamated scores.

Here’s what the finalists from St Martin’s had to say…

Participating primary schools on the night included, English Martyrs, St Joseph’s, St Martin’s, Christ the King, St Paul’s and Dominic Savio.

We hope that every young person who took part will feel empowered to continue to speak out about issues they care about in their local communities.

Our thanks go to all the schools, teachers, parents and pupils who worked so hard on this, as well as our fabulous volunteer Linda Heneghan for organising the entire competition and our great judges who really helped make it such a special night.  Thank you all!

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